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Because my insane US/Canada hockey road trip in January wasn't enough I have just got back from a long weekend in Cologne to watch some of the hockey World Championships.

It was amazing! Six games of hockey over two days, front row seats right behind the players' bench, lots of NHL stars on various teams.

To give you an idea of how close we were this was taken with my phone. That's the bench in front of us :D

First game was Latvia vs Denmark. Let me tell you Latvia fans are LOUD! There was loads of chanting when we got to the arena just from people milling around outside. Once the game started it was amazing. It was great! Being surrounded by people who were clearly so thrilled to see their country play kind of sweeps you up in the enthusiasm. Intitally we decided to cheer for Latvia just because we were sitting behind their bench but by the end we were screaming as loudly as everyone else

We also fell in love with this guy. He got a shutout against Denmark (meaning he didn't allow any goals) and when one of his teamates charged over to congratulate him he did this. He was great!

After that we went out for a bit of fresh air before it was time for the Italy vs Slovakia game. This one was okay and it went to overtime so it was pretty evenly matched.

I have a lot of goalie photos as we were sat near the goal and they don't move as fast as everyone else so it's easier to get picks :D

Final game of the day was Sweden vs Germany. This was the one I had been waiting for. When we first talked about going to Worlds for a couple of days my only caveat was that we went on a day when Sweden was playing.

This all stems back to the Hockey World Cup last year in which I decided to cheer for Sweden simply because one of my favourite Penguins players was on the roster. Anyway, I ended up falling in love with a ton of Swedish players to the point where it's become a bit of a joke in my hockey Twitter group (Oh, he's Swedish so Hils will like him).

Anyway, of course the Penguins are still in the playoffs (don't talk to me about that it's stressing me out) so they weren't there. Who WAS there, however, was Gabriel Landeskog.

Through a series of complicated events that I won't bore you with I have somehow become a fan of the Colorado Avalanche. Yeah, I don't know either. They are bad at hockey but very sweet guys and the person who runs their official Twitter account is amazing.

Anyway, when I found out Gabe was going to be at Worlds I decided to make a sign. The Avs need more love and since I was able to I decided to give it to them.

So, with help from my hockey Twitter group we came up with the perfect pun. I made the poster and tweeted it to the Avs who liked it enough to RT it :D

In an unfortunate bit of luck it turned out our seats were behind the Germany bench not the Sweden bench. They alternate who is the 'home' team so we had a 50/50 chance. But all was not lost. We didn't need to leave the arena between games although most people did so we had a snack, loitered and then I wandered down to the glass on the Sweden side so I could watch them warm up. A few people did the same but it wasn't crowded at all. I stood for about 45 mins and then the guys came onto the ice.

Gabe did a lap and then saw my sign. He read it and smiled at me. I grinned back. He went back to warming up. It was awesome.

But then...

A few minutes later he came back over and slid a puck onto the end of his stick. He looked at me with an 'are you ready' sort of expression so I hurriedly folded my poster away and nodded. Puck came over the glass and landed just behind me. Luckily the guy behind me picked it up and gave it to me. I mouthed 'thank you' to Gabe and he went back to warming up.

And that is the tale of how the captain of the Colorado Avalanche gave me a puck.

I was very cool and didn't lose my shit until I got back to my seat where I made Wendy take a photo of me with my sign and my puck.

Let's compare: This is the photo I tweeted to Gabe and the Avs to say thank you

I hate my teeth so I tend to keep my mouth shut when I'm taking photos

This is the photo Wendy took when I got back with my puck


And here is Gabe. He'd just spilled a load of Gatorade down his front but it's the best picture I have. The rest are a bit fuzzy because he was moving and my hands were shaking from excitement. Don't ever doubt that you become less of a dork as you get older. I pretend to be cool about shit like this but I am not :D

And, and for those who care about the actual hockey Sweden murdered Germany. I'm glad we were sat with a block of Sweden fans so I could scream and cheer without fear of being murdered.

Look at the shots on goal numbers at the end of the first period. That gives you an idea of how the game went :D

Sunday was a bit less eventful but still a lot of fun. I'll post about that tomorrow. I am shattered and I really need to sleep as I'm back at work tomorrow.
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